This article will give you an understanding of the benefits of fermenting vegetables and how to ferment different foods. Fermentation was the traditional way to preserve vegetables prior to refrigeration. However, we are finding there are many nutritious reasons to carry on this tradition. Let’s find out more.
What is Fermentation?
Fermentation is a metabolic process that occurs under anaerobic conditions that breaks down carbohydrates into alcohol or acid using yeast or bacteria.
Bacterial fermentation is different from yeast fermentation. Yeast fermentation produces alcohol whereas bacterial fermentation is lacto-fermentation which produces lactic acid. The most common yeast fermentation is the conversion of sugars to yeast in grape juice to produce alcohol
Why Ferment Foods?
There are many reasons to ferment. The most compelling being
the nutritional benefits, making nutrients more bioavailable, creating probiotics, enzymes and beneficial bacteria. These enzymes and bacteria assist to fight pathogens, illness and aid digestion as well as produce antibiotic and anti-carcinogenic substances which aid the growth of healthy gut flora.
The addition of salt is critical and produces the correct fermentation. Lactic acid supports the production of enzymes and good bacteria and preserves the food.
Fermented foods are pre-digested foods so more energy is available for yourself. 70% of the
Examples of fermentation include:
- sauerkraut – find out how to make sauerkraut here
- kefir – find out how to make milk kefir here
- kimchi – find the kimchi recipe here
Dairy fermentation breaks down casein (milk protein) which is difficult to digest. It also increases enzymes including lactase which helps in the breakdown of lactose as well as many other enzymes that aid in the digestion of calcium and other minerals and vitamins such as B and C, not to mention the probiotic benefits. In addition, kefir creates a lining on the digestive tract which provides a conducive environment for good bacteria to colonise. Lactose intolerant individuals may be able to digest fermented milk.
The studies below have shown the beneficial effects of dairy fermentation:
- Health benefits of fermented milk containing Bifidobacterium
- Living cells of probiotic Bifidobacterium
bifidumon gastric mucosa
- Beneficial health effects of fermented dairy products
Vegetable lacto-fermentation has been used to preserve
vegetables for many years. Lactic acid prevents bacteria and preserves foods. The lactobacilli in fermented vegetables assist digestion and
To obtain the best nutrients, when fermenting vegetables, it
is recommended to use the best quality organic vegetables, Celtic or Himalayan
Traditionally, kefir is a product of milk fermentation. Water kefir is starting to also become popular. However, milk kefir contains more beneficial bacteria. According to Wikipedia
Bacteria in milk kefir
include:Lactobacillus acidophilus, Bifidobacterium bifidum, Streptococcus thermophilus, Lactobacillus delbrueckii subsp. bulgaricus, Lactobacillus helveticus, Lactobacillus kefiranofaciens, Lactococcus lactis, and Leuconostoc species.
Lactobacilli in kefir may exist in concentrations varying from approximately 1 million to 1 billion colony-forming units per millilitre.
If you would like to know how to make milk kefir see our recipe here.
A number of health benefits have been attributed to kefir as indicated in the study entitled Microbiological, technological and therapeutic properties of kefir: a natural probiotic beverage:
The therapeutic benefits included:
- Antimicrobial Activity
- Impact on the Gastrointestinal Tract (GIT)
- Anti-inflammatory and Healing Activity
- Impact on the Gastrointestinal Tract (GIT)
- Anticarcinogenic Effects
- Stimulation of the Immune System
- Hypocholesterolemic Effect
- Lactose Intolerance
How to Ferment Milk Kefir
Here is a quick overview of how to make kefir.
- Organic, cold-pressed or raw milk
- Kefir grains
- Plastic sieve
- Wooden or plastic
- mesh lid, cheesecloth or coffee filter
Time needed: 2 days.
How to make Milk Kefir
- Milk at Room Temperature
Take the milk out of the refrigerator for approximately 1 hour to
reach room temperature.
- Milk into Sterilised Jar
Pour milk into a wide mouth glass jar that has been sterilised (simply pour boiling water into a jar to sterilise).
- Place Grains into Milk
Place grains into milk using a wooden or plastic spoon to distribute and stir. Do not use metal utensils when handling kefir as this kills the grains.
Cover with a breathable material such as cheesecloth, coffee filter or plastic mesh to enable the culture to breathe.
Leave to ferment for 24 hours preferably somewhere in constant temperature between 18-25°C. Once the kefir separates, it is done.
- Sift Grains
Sift grains from kefir using a plastic sieve.
- Start Again
And start the process again with the grains.
You can do a second ferment with the kefir that will increase vitamins (especially B vitamins), minerals and probiotics. To do this, leave kefir for another 8-24 hours (after straining grains). If you like an effervescent drink, put a lid on and add flavours such orange or lemon peel. Otherwise, put another breathable lid and add flavours prior to drinking for non-effervescent kefir.
It will keep for weeks in the refrigerator.